Southlake Carroll schools face questions over proposed business academy

A retired airline pilot and a woman who sued the district over open meeting violations tied a diversity plan are among the volunteers behind an effort to launch a business academy in the Carroll school district.

During the Sept. 11 board meeting, Danny Batsalkin, a former attorney and Southlake real estate broker, and Guy Midkiff, a retired American Airlines pilot, spoke about the benefits of having an academy during a presentation.

Kristin Garcia, a parent in the school district, is also involved in the proposed project but was not at the meeting.

Garcia sued the school district in 2020, alleging that several board members violated open meetings laws when sending text messages about a proposed diversity plan.

Midkiff produces the Wise Guy Talks podcast, which has criticized diversity initiatives in the district.

Batsalkin has also been criticized for social media posts regarding diversity.

The three did not respond to questions from the Star-Telegram regarding the comments about their lack of business experience and the social media posts.

Stephanie Williams, a parent in the Carroll district who ran twice for a seat on the school board, said she did not get a response from district officials after she sent an email outlining her concerns.

Williams provided a copy of her email to the Star-Telegram in which she stated that as a parent and volunteer, she fully supports creating a business academy, but asked if leaders from Fortune 500 companies were contacted.

“Our community boasts leaders of Fortune 500 companies like Fidelity, Toyota, and American Airlines. Thus, when the announcement was made that these three individuals would be spearheading this endeavor I was perplexed,” she wrote.

The school district said in an emailed statement to the Star-Telegram that the proposal for the business academy was discussed during a strategic planning process.

If launched, the business academy would be managed and developed by Carroll’s curriculum department and there are many steps involved with creating the academy.

“The community members came on their own to present their ideas. They collaborated on their own, and were not selected by the school district,” the district said.

During the Sept. 11 presentation, Midkiff said he wanted to see a business academy in the district after his daughter attended the Carroll Medical Academy, an advanced high school program for students wanting to pursue medical careers. He described how some of those students ended up choosing business careers.

Batsalkin also described the program as focusing on student-led initiatives, and that there would be a track for college-bound students and one for students interested in pursuing a trade.